What Is Tonalism? (12 Essential Characteristics)
David Adams Cleveland
Illustrated, A History of American Tonalism, p. 103.
William Gedney Bunce developed a dazzling gestural expressiveness in his Venetian marine paintings. A veteran of the Civil War, Bunce translated the Old Master bravura paint handling taught in the Munich school to his wildly visionary Venetian skies at sunset. By pursuing a narrow vein of subject matter and often using narrow or long canvases and low horizons to emphasize his oceanic skies, Bunce developed a style that verged on complete abstraction, a merging of means and ends to approximate a mystic vision. Rarely, if ever, does a gondola stray into Bunce’s canvases, which are mostly populated with sail-shapes and punctuated with hard-edged notes to rest the eye or provide visual focus. His free brushwork invokes a painterly language in which the sensations of sight and sound, smell and taste—the very atmosphere of the lagoon—are channeled into the sumptuous texture of his pigment.
American, 1840-1916, Hartford, Connecticut